Kathleen Luschek, PLOS staff member, shares April’s Lunch & Learn with Dr Desiree LaBeaud, as part of an ongoing program to further dialogue between PLOS and the broader open community.
On April 11, 2014, the PLOS head office in San Francisco hosted our fourth Lunch & Learn of the year. This month’s speaker was Dr. Desiree LaBeaud, a research scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, who also serves as Deputy Editor for PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. Dr. LaBeaud spoke about her research on arboviruses, specifically Rift Valley fever virus, chikungunya, and dengue. While most of Dr. LaBeaud’s work takes place in Kenya, she spoke about the recent (within the last 20 years) resurgence of outbreaks around the world; she described the dramatic increase not only in geographic distribution, but also in scale and types, with one cause being globalization and increased air travel. She explained that despite the spread of these mosquito-borne viruses into the developed world, they are still very much Neglected Tropical Diseases. As with other NTDs, both socioeconomic status and lasting effects are important, and while there are mosquito vectors here in the U.S., the largest outbreaks continue to occur in developing nations, particularly across Africa. (For more on Dr. LaBeaud’s views on why arboviruses belong on the list of NTDs, see her Viewpoint here.)